'Fun' continues vs. Texas

The Baltimore Sun

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Orioles pitcher Brian Burres usually watches tape of his previous performances against the team he is about to oppose, but he decided not to before yesterday's game, and for good reason.

The only other time Burres faced the Texas Rangers, he allowed eight earned runs in two-thirds of an inning in the Orioles' historic 30-3 loss in August. Reviewing that tape would serve only to conjure up memories from a past that Burres and the Orioles are trying to distance themselves from every day.

They're both off to quite a start. Getting six quality innings from Burres and four RBIs from the resurgent Aubrey Huff, the Orioles turned Texas' home opener into an 8-1 rout in front of an announced 48,808 yesterday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Orioles' sixth straight win extended their American League-best record to 6-1, their best start since they began the 1998 season with a 7-1 mark. In winning six straight, the Orioles have accomplished something in the season's first week that they did just twice all last year.

"We had six last year? It didn't feel like it," said Huff, who followed up his game-winning home run Monday against the Seattle Mariners by going 4-for-4 with a walk yesterday. "We're playing good baseball right now. We're having a great time. This is, hands down, more fun than anytime last year, for sure."

The only difference between yesterday's victory and the previous five was that the Orioles didn't need to stage a comeback. With the help of home runs from Scott Moore and Luke Scott, they jumped on Rangers starter Jason Jennings for two runs in both the second and third innings. Then they essentially put the game out of reach with two more in the sixth on Huff's two-run double, which was initially ruled a home run.

That gave the Orioles a 6-0 lead, plenty of cushion for Burres, who celebrated his 27th birthday with one of the finest starts of his Orioles career. It was quite the contrast to his previous outing against the Rangers, a performance that still sticks with Burres.

"Yeah, [this] makes me feel a little better about facing [the Rangers]," said Burres, who hadn't pitched since the Orioles' season opener eight days earlier.

Burres, who won the fifth starter spot this spring, gave up seven hits, walked two and hit a batter yesterday. But he spent the majority of his six-plus innings making clutch pitches or getting key defensive plays behind him to avoid trouble.

The Rangers had runners on first and third with one out in the second inning, but Milton Bradley was thrown out at home trying to score on a ball that got only a couple of yards behind catcher Ramon Hernandez.

Burres got Ian Kinsler to hit into a double play in the third inning and struck out David Murphy on a curveball with the bases loaded to end the fourth. He got another double play in the fifth and struck out Marlon Byrd with a man on to end the sixth.

"He changed his pattern of pitching the second and third time around with their lineup," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I thought he was predominantly using the fastball the first time around and then after that, his curveball really came into play for him. He got big outs with the curveball."

Trembley yanked Burres after he surrendered a leadoff single to Murphy in the seventh. Matt Albers came on and yielded an RBI single to Kinsler that thwarted the shutout bid.

"This has been great," said second baseman Brian Roberts, who had an RBI single. "Winning is always fun."


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